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450 E. Latham Ave.
Hemet, CA 92543

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Hemet, Calif. — On Monday, April 17, the Hemet Police Department launched a new Drone as a First Responder (DFR) Program to enhance its law enforcement capabilities. The DFR program will use small, remotely operated Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), also commonly referred to as drones, to provide law enforcement with critical information as they respond to calls for service and emergencies.

These drones are equipped with video cameras and will provide an overhead view of an area or incident for ground personnel, provide detailed documentation of crime and accident scenes, and search for lost or missing persons. UAVs can arrive in seconds, providing increased insight and situational awareness.

“The concept is to utilize a UAS to fly to any reported emergency and arrive before police officers on the ground. An Air Support Officer will operate the UAS remotely and immediately communicate with field personnel via radio,” said Alan Reyes, a department spokesperson. “The video feed is also immediately available to every officer in the field via vehicle computer or smartphone application, so officers can see for themselves what they are responding to.”

As the first law enforcement agency in Riverside County to introduce an operational DFR program, the Hemet Police Department is leading the way for drone integration by utilizing Cape-enabled drones to supplement the traditional police response. CAPE is a drone flight control software platform that facilitates local and remote piloting, live streaming anywhere in the world, and evidence-grade video management. By integrating CAPE-equipped drones into the DFR program, officers can respond to and assess active situations sooner and make lifesaving decisions on-scene. Drones may even be used to clear calls when officers aren’t needed, saving the department time and money.

“All video and photo evidence taken during any UAS mission is stored in the same manner as Body Worn Camera (BWC) video and other investigative evidence,” said Glen Brock, HPD’s Captain overseeing the program. “Footage is stored for a period of time consistent with all other evidence related to that type of incident/investigation.”

The HPD policy prohibits drone operators from intentionally recording or transmitting images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as inside private buildings, except where authorized by a warrant issued by a judge or in emergencies.

“The ability to evaluate the resources needed, prepare the proper operational response, and increase the safety of our officers and public is the intent of the project and the mission of HPD,” said Chief of Police Eddie Pust. “Hemet is modeling the future of drone integration in Riverside County by utilizing drones as first responders.”

The Hemet Police Department has partnered with Flying Lion to test the Drone as a First Responder (DFR) concept for a period of 30 days.  This will allow the department to determine if a DFR program is right for the community moving forward.

Hemet UAS team members undergo regular training in various locations and settings to ensure operational efficiency. All training is documented, and HPD maintains the records, which are subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). HPD UAS pilots are also subject to FAA regulations related to airspace use and must have valid Part 107 Remote Pilot Licenses.

The Hemet Police Department is committed to maintaining transparency with the public. The Department’s Transparency Portal tracks all drone flights launched by the department, allowing citizens to view recent flight activity and program details, ensuring accountability and trust with the public. To view the recent flight paths of our drones, visit https://www.aerial.motorolasolutions.com/transparency/hemetpd-ca

To read more about the Hemet Police Department’s DFR Program, visit https://hemetpd.com/drone-as-a-first-responder. For media inquiries, contact Public Information Social Media Officer Alan Reyes at areyes@hemetca.gov.